‘Cause I’m an incurable goofball, I figured if I’m going to talk about the level design in Ratchet & Clank, I should give it a funny name. So here’s “Nuts and Bolts.” I’m going to start with the first world after the prologue, when our furry hero and his robot buddy first begin their adventure together in “Novalis.”

As I mentioned before (see link above), the first level of the game presents the player with three directions to go in — one leads to some straightforward platforming with scattered combat, the next to some timed navigation/maneuvering sections with a bit more combat, and the third holds the “meat” of the level’s combat encounters.

It’s quite easily possible to clear the entire map (all three sections) using only basic attacks, as this level is geared toward preparing you for the sorts of challenges that will be ahead. There is a vague sense of urgency during the story part of the level, and it seems pretty clear throughout that the invasion is all around you.

Since I’m working from memory right now, I’ll probably be off in my estimations. I’ll be deliberately vague to compensate for my lack of complete knowledge. *snerk*

Taking the fork into the cavern behind your start position presents you with some straightforward jump puzzles. I say puzzles, but there isn’t all that much to the challenge. There’s some tricky maneuvering on some narrow catwalks, but it’s mostly “jump, avoid the hazard, jump, swat some baddies, jump,” et cetera.

At the end of the area, you can buy the InfoBot for Aridia off an NPC, then ride the water chute back to the beginning of the area. Pretty straightforward. The enemies throughout this section are like little speed bumps, and are pretty sparse.

The second fork in the level takes you through several submerged areas and tests your ability to maneuver underwater under a strict time limit — Ratchet drowns if you leave him underwater for too long. The enemies in this area are also pretty sparse, and don’t prove to be too much of a challenge. Mostly window dressing.

Finally, for what I guess you could call the main part of the level, you ride a platform down to the battle itself, to a field littered with enemies. If you count separate groups as encounters, I believe there are about three between you and the first major structure you encounter — a bridge. There, you encounter another 2-3 groups.

Once you’ve crossed the bridge, there are only another, maybe two, groups of enemies before you’ve reached the end of the segment and collected both the coordinates for Kerwan and your new transportation — since the crash-landing left you otherwise stranded. All told, you have between six and eight encounters.